Proofing a pizza dough is not always about the yeast. It includes a lot of chemical processes involving yeast but a bit of the process can also be done without it, hence Autolyse Pizza Doughs.
Autolyse, pronounced as auto-lease is a process where the flour or the dough, in general, is hydrated with water alone by soaking it for a certain period of time.
Pizza doughs especially ones made from the U.S.A. are all about mixing the ingredients at a time. This process is dependable and is easy to use.
However, there are other techniques to make your pizza dough a little bit more flavorful. This process is simple but can go wrong if executed poorly.
The term Autolyse was coined by the renowned French baking instructor, Raymond Calvel. This process can improve the texture and the taste of your dough by doing one simple thing.
That is to hydrate the dough properly. This is essentially the purpose of making an Autolyse dough.
What is Autolyse?
Autolyse is basically the process of hydrating the dough by incorporating the flour and water together and then letting them rest for at least an hour or more.
After letting it rest, then you can add the other ingredients to complete the process. By letting the dough rest, it allows it to concentrate all the enzymes inside it.
Without the yeast, the dough will not rise as expected but rest assured that all the other microorganisms are at work in making the dough better.
Advantages of Autolyse Dough
There are a lot of benefits that you can get when you run your dough through this process. The main thing being its flexibility.
When you make an Autolyse dough, it will be easier to handle since it is hydrated, but not drowned in water, therefore, making it more flexible and smoother.
While the dough is resting, the gluten will also be activated even without the yeast and start breaking down so there will be no need for too much kneading.
The gluten inside the dough is what holds it together, therefore, making it hard to shape. The process allows the breakdown of the gluten for easier stretching and expanding.
The process of making an Autolyse Dough requires less kneading so there is less oxidation and damage on the pigments inside the dough, therefore, making it more flavorful and richer in color.
How to Autolyse?
This is simple. Make sure that all the other ingredients aside from the flour and the water are set aside and are not included in the initial part of the process.
All you need to do is mix the flour with the right amount of water. Make sure that they are mixed well to hydrate the dough properly.
Then cover it and let it rest for 30 minutes. The ideal time for the dough to be hydrated is an hour but you can use it sooner if need be.
You can also let the mixture rest for much longer up to 5 hours or even overnight to make sure that the process has been developing properly.
Autolyse Dough Recipe
– 340 grams of Bread Flour
– 220 milliliters of Water
-5 grams of Active Yeast
-7 grams of Sugar
-7 grams of Salt
-10.5 grams of Olive oil
Step 1. Mix at least a quarter of the water and the flour in a bowl leaving just the right amount of water for the yeast. Cover the mixture and let it rest for an hour.
Step 2. Activate the yeast by mixing it with the remaining water and whisking it for at least a minute.
Step 3. Depending on your preferred time, start mixing the yeast with the rested dough. As long as it has rested for an hour, it will be good.
Step 4. Add the sugar, salt, and oil to the mixture. This process will take longer than what you expect since the dough will be a little bit stubborn and won’t take the water in.
The technique is to start real slow and then keep at it and eventually, the mix will start to happen and the dough will absorb the other ingredients.
Step 5. After mixing, cover the dough and let it rest for an hour at room temperature. This will let the dough rise.
Step 6. Refrigerate for at least one day. The dough can last on the fridge for up to 3 days so you can let it ferment there longer for more flavor.
Step 7. Start kneading a bit and shape the dough and get cooking!
An Autolyse Dough rises more evenly than ordinary dough when cooked. This allows more fluff inside the crust and a softer bite on every part of the crust.
The larger water content also allows the crust to give off more steam, therefore, cooking the toppings and melting the cheese properly.
The crust is crispy because of the added oil and will have a nice, brown color. The Autolyse Dough is also hydrated enough to prevent burned areas.
The interior of the dough has more bubbles because of the excessive steam from the water inside the dough. This makes the crust thin, and crunchy at the same time.
The crust from an Autolyse Dough is so much better and more flavorful than that of an ordinary crust. Regular crusts are sometimes prone to burns but Autolyse ones are much better at avoiding this.
The broken-down gluten inside the Autolyse Dough makes the crust taste better. It was scattered all throughout the dough evenly so the flavor can be tasted in all the crust.
Autolyse is an amazing tool used by great cooks and it is easy to do so you can perform it in your own home. It only takes more time but nonetheless, the results are satisfying.
It is not always needed but it does make your crust better. You should always keep in mind that you have to allow the oxidation process to happen, so you do not need to knead it constantly.
An Autolyse Dough gives off more subtle flavor by hydrating the dough and activating more gluten while keeping them inside.
So if you want to see a drastic improvement in your pizza crust game, you should definitely try out the recipe above and see (or taste, or that matter) the difference when your dough undergoes Autolyse.
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